Sunday, December 26, 2010


I haven't written for a while. I needed to think. I did not know what I wanted to say.

One day I watching PBS and a story came on about Buddhism. The story went on to say that Buddha sat under a tree and deprived himself of all life and it's comforts. He consumed just a grain of rice here or there. He eliminated all extravagance and went further to deny himself even necessities.

I started thinking about that. What is the line of extravagance and what is the lure of it? What also is the price one pays for it...or is there a price? It sort of fits right in to this year long challenge; it essentially is about eliminating things I do not need so that hopefully I will see what I already have.

This challenge is too easy; it does not affect me. I decided I needed to go further. I realized that there is comfort in extravagance and I take part in that. I kept thinking about these beautiful chestnut leather boots I had tried on in Vancouver. I could have bought them and they looked fantastic. Beyond making me feel good; I knew also I would get compliments from them; people would want them. In that moment I realized that buying them would perpetuate the wanting of things for the people around me. The cost of buying extravagant things is that it pulls others into wanting more; into being less satisfied with what they have.


Do we need it?

I am altering this challenge; not only will I not buy any clothing item for a year, I will also not buy any unnecessary item for myself at all. This includes shoes, jewelry, belts, etc. In buying for my family or my home I will weigh the buying of things much more carefully. I will ask myself, is this too extravagant? Will this incite others to want? It's a tricky challenge and a complicated idea because what is and is not extravagant can be relative to the individual who asks it, but deep down we all know the truth and the truth shall set you free.

Monday, December 13, 2010

give away

I know this challenge is about not getting more, but it has also turned into giving away more. It has started a sort of cleansing mentality to my life in general. Less stuff can free a person, but not just giving away a few away so much that you live on love and not electronics.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sock Monkeys

While vacationing or walking around malls, I often come across a kid's toy store and sometimes in the nicer toy stores, I see an old fashioned sock monkey. I immediately think about Joey, "He would love that sock monkey" and I may or may not buy it and add it to his sock monkey collection. But...what if collecting things is a bad idea? Just because he really loved that first sock monkey, doesn't mean he should therefore have every interesting sock monkey I see. Am I teaching him to have more than he needs just because he wants it? Am I adding to the consumer mentality and directly teaching it to my children? Am I saying, "Do not be satisfied with the sock monkey you have, buy as many as you can; you need more?"

And what about stamp collections and doll collections? We will leave rock collections out of this, but what about the word collection in itself. Webster identifies collection as..."to accumulate things for pleasure". The classic example is a young girl with 5 or so dolls. There is always 1 doll she plays with the most, the others are thrown amongst the other toys. She is satisfied with one.

What if that first sock monkey sat on his bed adored and loved and cuddled and that was the end of the story?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

What can I do with what I have?

Another couple days have gone by and I can't help but think that this challenge is easier right now because it is during a holiday season where shopping for other things besides clothes is taking place. I was careful, however, to only buy my daughter 2 gifts and my son 1 large gift. I spent roughly seventy dollars on each of them and about 30 dollars on stocking stuffers. I do feel that is a reduction of what I have spent in the past and I look forward to the kids just opening a couple gifts and enjoying them rather than ripping open 8 or so gifts and then wondering why there aren't anymore.

Also, I went on a shopping trip with a friend the other day which was a lot of fun. Yes, we were participating in the commercialism around Christmas, but we both had a budget and a plan to spend significantly less than years prior. We turned what would have been completely commercial into an opportunity to learn more about each other. In a sense, we made Christmas about relationships and people and love rather than gifts themselves. It was nice.

On a totally different subject...when day 2 started I began to think of the clothes I already do have. In some sense I use clothing as a creative outlet. I like to put things together and change them around. I love scarves and hair clips and funky nail polish. But, because I couldn't shop for new things, I started thinking about what I could do with the things that I had. Can I take some of my plain t-shirts and turn them into completely different shirts by adding my own style and some paint and glitter? Could I cut those jean or put ribbon on that skirt? My mind started to really imagine all kinds of things that I could do with WHAT I HAD.

Hmmm, translation into real life...what can we do with what we do have beyond clothing? What can I do with family as they are now...just as they are? What can I do with the friends I have now just as they are, not after they have worked things out with themselves? What can I do with the skills I have right now, not when I learn this or that? What can I do with the money I have now, not when we make more? What this does is take the future out of the everyday. It forces a look at what is in front of me right now and even more than that, it makes me happy and grateful for what I have instead of bypassing that thought and searching for things outside of it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Going about my day today I started thinking to myself how this challenge may change my attitude in general. Maybe some days it will not affect me much at all; the thought that I am not buying clothing won't change me, but on other days it may be a bit of a mental battle...of self-control. Now, self-control and I have an interesting relationship. In some things I have great self-control and on other things (like my snappy anger outbursts) I have absolutely no self-control at all. In fact, it seems like something else is controlling me! So today I woke up and had in my mind the realization that I should open my eyes to even the little ways this challenge may be changing me.

The thing I noticed most was that I was way more careful with the things I DO have. I was working in my sons classroom doing science experiments where bleach was involved and I thought to myself, I don't want to get any on this on my sweater. I love this sweater; I bought it at Banana Republic on a girls night out and wear it several times a month. Plus it's green and well, I love green. Anyway, then I thought if it were not for this challenge I might still be careful, of course I would, but I wouldn't be quite as careful about it. I would know if it did get ruined that they still had them at the store and I could find another one or one like it. But, because I knew this was my only one, I somehow treated it with more love. Now what is the translation of this in real life? Is love connected to the idea that this is the only one? This is your only spouse, treat them well; as opposed to "I will love him more when he's nicer". These are your only children so love them; as opposed to "there will be another chance to talk to them". Is love love begging us not to waste...begging us not to always look for upgrades on our homes, our friends, our families?

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Journey Begins

“Do you have enough?”
After the sermon the question still rang softly in my ears, “Do you have enough?” When I heard that question...when it popped up on that screen in black and white boldly asking the audience, I knew my answer was “yes” immediately. But then what?
As I went about my life, as I spoke with friends, as I enjoyed a glass of wine with my husband, as I decorated my house with Christmas glitter; still my ears were listening to the quiet question, “Do you have enough”.
The question settled there in my mind, found a pillow of comfort within me and stayed. Why did it lay there when I knew my answer was “yes”? The question was not satisfied with my answer. It didn’t really believe that I acted like I had enough. And so I thought…If I am sure I have enough which clearly I do, then why don’t I act like I have enough? I suppose that’s the second part to the first question.
Do you have enough?
Do you act like you have enough?
The only conclusion to my dilemma is that I am a bit of a spoiled brat. Am I rich, definitely not! Do I have a budget, definitely yes! Really I only give myself 50 dollars to spend on what I call, “The mommy fund”. In fact we had to cash out a retirement fund just to survive the next year until Rob (my husband) is off his probationary year. That said…I still absolutely, positively, have enough! So if you are still with my neurological psycho babble, the next question is,
“How do I act like I have enough?”
In some ways I feel like I need to convince myself that indeed I do have enough. Part of me must think I am lacking if I don’t act like I have enough. To back up for a second, I am not a chronic shopper. Typically I don’t buy a ton of stuff, but I do buy stuff I don’t need. I buy books I don’t need; they’re at the library, and clothes I don’t need; my closet is full! And then, amongst all these thoughts running races in my head, I thought of a challenge. Now, I love a good challenge when it makes a person closer to God and overall a healthier person. So here it is…dare I say it? If I say it, I must follow it…
For one full year, until Thanksgiving 2011 I will not buy one item of clothing. Now I know your first question, “what about underwear?” But here’s the thing, I have 10 pairs! How can one possibly go through that much underwear in a year. And here’s the other thing, what if I only had 2 pairs left after 6 months? I would wash them every day, big deal! And yes, this might be drastic, and yes, unnecessary, but I am convinced there is a lesson here. Join me if you dare. Convince yourself you do have enough and find your happiness and joy and rest in God this coming year even in the midst of beautiful clothing.